$1.4m damages for playcentre fall

By Cam Lucadou-Wells

A visiting parent at a Hallam playcentre has been awarded more than $1.4 million in damages after he fell more than three metres from play equipment onto a concrete floor.

Abdul Qayom, 39, of Hallam, suffered career-ending spinal damage when a raised platform gave way under his feet at Xanadu Playcentre on 23 November 2014, the Victorian County Court heard.

The Afghan-born refugee had been attempting to save his then five-year-old daughter who was stuck in the multi-level play equipment featuring slides, tunnels and a padded stairway.

Qayom was taken by ambulance to a hospital emergency department, in extreme pain and short of breath, Judge Jeanette Morrish stated.

She was satisfied that a girl had fallen from the same platform the day before the fall.

“It is inherently unlikely that if concocting his account he would happen to strike upon a story about a girl falling from the equipment the day before when, by mere coincidence, a girl did actually fall from the equipment the day before.”

Qayom was found to have suffered permanent physical and mental injuries including spinal damage in three places and soft-tissue damage in his shoulder.

He’d lost the capacity to work, and required life-long treatment and medication, he argued.

Xanadu’s then-owner Kylamanda Investments admitted liability for negligence but claimed Qayom exaggerated his injuries at a hearing at the Victorian County Court in September and October 2018.

Judge Morrish found on the balance of probabilities that Qayom was a credible witness.

He continued to be wracked by back and shoulder pain that radiated into his neck, chest, head and legs. He could sit down for no longer than 25 minutes at a time, Judge Morrish noted.

The once socially-active man had worked long hours as a robot technician. He was now depressed and unable to resume his former work.

He spent most of his time resting at home and only occasionally socialised.

The fall had caused him to suffer a loss of enjoyment of life, his earning capacity was destroyed and he’d incur medical expenses most likely for the rest of his life, Judge Morrish found.

Qayom’s prognosis was “poor” – “no sign of improvement has yet occurred,” she stated.

She awarded Qayom $1.37 million damages including pain and suffering, past and future lost earnings and medical costs.

In a further hearing in December, Judge Morrish awarded him about $150,000 in legal costs.

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